THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — A 17-year-old boy barred from volunteering at a hockey arena for casually chatting up Don Cherry is hoping the fiery commentator will speak out to get him reinstated.
Earlier this month Billy Steele, a volunteer camera operator with Rogers TV, was reprimanded for snapping a photo of Cherry and conversing with him at General Motors Centre in Oshawa, Ont.
Steele is now crossing his fingers that Cherry will speak to his defence Saturday night before a national audience during the commentator’s Coach’s Corner segment on CBC’s "Hockey Night in Canada" broadcast.
"Don Cherry’s the man — love that man, he’s awesome," Steele said Friday. "I never miss Coach’s Corner. Now I’m hoping he’ll say something on Coach’s Corner. He probably will."
"(I hope he says) GMC should be letting that kid back in, and shame on GMC."
A CBC spokesman said Friday that Cherry wasn’t commenting on the situation, though it’s likely he’ll raise the issue during Saturday night’s show.
Steele was banned from entering the rink for volunteer purposes — which involved shooting footage of Ontario Hockey League games — in mid-January. The decision came after a previous run-in with arena management in which he used his volunteer privileges to bring a friend onto the ice after a game.
After interacting with Cherry twice in the course of two days, an employee of Global Spectrum, which runs the arena, said Steele was no longer welcome.
"This young man seems to not want to adhere to our procedures," Vince Vella, general manager of the city-owned facility, said in an email.
"He has been counselled numerous times and doesn’t seem to want to comply with our practices and procedures. He continuously fails to comply."
The teen said he believed the arena’s rules only prevented him from talking to hockey players, not all celebrities.
Steele attends a special school because he has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a learning disability which in the past has caused him to have problems with the law, said his father Bill.
People with the developmental disorder are prone to impulsive behaviour and may be easily distracted.
Banning the boy from the arena was wrong because the job was helping turn his son’s life around, Bill Steele said. He’s since filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario asking for $100,000 in damages, proper posting of rules, and the firing of the Global Spectrum employee who barred the teen from the arena.
.In the complaint, Steele alleges his son was "removed from the facility … because of actions that were caused by, and a direct result of his disability."
"Nobody has opened their eyes up," the boy’s father said. "Maybe if I mentioned $100,000 — which is probably peanuts to this company — maybe somebody will open up and say, ‘Hey, this is kind of serious here.’
"If the courts think my son is entitled to it, good for him, go for the money. I have no problem with that at all."
Billy Steele said his dream job is to shoot the Toronto Maple Leafs for TSN, but he fears the situation at the Oshawa arena will mean he won’t learn the skills he needs to get there.
Calling the incident "a personal situation," Rogers TV spokeswoman Julie Henson said the company hasn’t decided whether to intervene.
In the meantime, Steele has been reassigned to work in a production truck outside the Oshawa arena and at other locations where he can continue to film sporting events.